Female Foundry: Komal Lath on COVID-19 in India

Komal Lath

Chief Initiator at Tute Consult

Female Foundry is our flagship global development and mentorship programme for female founded start-ups. During unprecedented times such as these, it’s more important than ever to amplify the voices of our Female Foundry entrepreneurs and use their experiences to help others.

Komal Lath, Chief Initiator at Tute Consult and Female Foundry member, talks to us about the challenges she is facing during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in India.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the local business community? 

The impact to local businesses has been staggering and is probably going to be significant. While most businesses have been curtailing huge losses, even local businesses across all levels are not spared. Businesses from all sectors are expecting help and assistance from the government during and after the pandemic subsides. The Indian government has already relaxed and implemented a few norms that may make things a tad easier for the local business communities, so there is still hope for further action and recovery measures. 

What are the specific challenges faced by your own business? 

Every industry has been a target of this novel virus and almost all sectors and industries have taken a hit. The marketing and PR industry has also witnessed a downfall in the past few weeks in sectors such as tourism, travel, retail and hospitality. It is like a domino effect which has impacted directly or indirectly. PR, however, is intrinsic to every industry and especially at this time we take the role and onus of consultants to help clients navigate their unified messaging and help tide fears and other complex internal and external communications that tend to go haywire. One major disadvantage is the lack of face time with my team and clients; we miss the banter and discussion in person. 

What changes or innovations have you implemented in response? 

While we still do follow our daily protocol of morning team calls and to do lists, Tute as an agency has adapted to make it easier to work virtually from home. When we realised things were about to get worse, we started working from home and avoiding commuting and public spaces a week before the actual lockdown was announced. It was an anticipatory measure which are very glad we took! Apart from that, we schedule team video calls every 2-3 days for a brain storming session and to ideate on clients and the way forward together. We’ve been conducting small and informative video sessions to allow people to learn new skills or software too. We’ve also adapted to having morning and evening calls with team leaders to know and gauge the progress of each team and to help each other out in any way we can. 

Do you foresee yourself using these innovations/changes post pandemic as well? 

Yes, I definitely see my team and I adapting to these new norms post pandemic, as it has given us an insight into how to be more productive and timely managing our schedules. I will be hosting more workshops to enhance and inculcate new skills, and try to get work and meetings done as digitally as possible to avoid travel and adhere to social distancing until the government announces otherwise.  

As a collective, what should the industry do to overcome this pandemic? 

Global economists around the world have declared this to be a worrying crisis for all. What we entrepreneurs should ideally do is accept the change and consider this as the new normal until safety is not a concern anymore. No doubt that some drastic measures will have to be taken amid this situation but it is time to start preparing if you haven’t already and brace ourselves for the future. We are all in this together! We will have a clean slate to begin again, like a rebirth. The marketing playbook will change and we will be far more humane than we previously were. 

Why do small businesses need help to survive? 

Small businesses do get affected by limited cash reserves, and with that drying up, the sustenance and survival is under question.  In a country where MSMEs contribute to a large part of the GDP, when these businesses are hit, it affects the entire economy. If small businesses shut down, it will lead to higher rates of unemployment and poverty in our country which has already battled this problem for a very long time. Thus, the government should do their best to help smaller businesses to survive and thrive as it’s the backbone of the economy of a third world country like India.

How did working with Female Foundry impact your business?

Female Foundry was an interesting exercise where we got to meet a lot of like-minded and diverse women from across the country as well as learn about new industries. It helped me to forge some interesting business connects and a whole lot of shift in perspectives towards work and goals too!

Read more about Female Foundry and how you can get involved here.